The summer has finally arrived, the Olympics are about to start, and there is a new health report out which tells us that inactivity is very bad for you. This is when I start feeling guilty that we are not one of those sporty families.
When my children were small I knew a family who would go out to some sporting event every weekend, not as passive spectators, but to actually actively participate in track and field events, all in matching tracksuits. This always used to make me feel very guilty that I didn’t provide the same for my children, even though the vision of a ‘sports meet’ was my idea of hell.
‘But mum’ said my son (fondly), when I was pondering on this, ‘your parenting philosophy was always to be completely selfish and expect your kids to follow along’. Not quite the way I would have put it, and not quite accurate (I was still reading them Thomas the Tank Engine stories way beyond the point where they made me want to scream. He has no idea!) but I concede the grain of truth behind the joke (I think it was a joke…)
I would put it like this: if you are going to genuinely enjoy spending time with your children, make sure you balance the things you do under duress with things that you really really want to do yourself.
Things I put on a brave face for included: joining in imaginative games, watching them put on ‘performances’, and doing anything messy. I recognise that you’re supposed to enjoy these things, but then, we mothers are not a homogeneous group are we? Giving birth doesn’t miraculously transform us all into people who enjoy gentle craft activities.
So to balance the picture, the things I really really do enjoy include reading books, watching interesting T.V. programmes together, going to see live music, mucking about aimlessly, going for long walks, camping and swimming in the sea. Despite the lack of participatory sports in there, and a few things that you do sitting down, there’s also a fair amount of activity isn’t there? We may not be one of those sporty families in the true sense of the word but we didn’t spend all our time vegetating in front of the telly either. In case I’ve made anyone feel guilty though, I’d like to reassure you we’ll be watching the Olympics from the sofa.